New York To Allow ‘Large Venues’ To Reopen

Strict safety measures will be in place, while venues will also operate at a heavily reduced capacity

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the state will allow large venues to reopen at reduced capacity from February 23.

Strict safety measures will be put in place in order to try to quell the spread of COVID-19, particularly a requirement that all attendees provide a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours in advance of an event. Other measures include mask-wearing, temperature checks and mandatory, assigned, socially distanced seating.

The state first piloted the new plans with the football team Buffalo Bills last month, allowing 6,700 fans into a 70,000-seat stadium. It was declared an "unparalleled success" by Cuomo. The new rules account for any stadium or arena in the state with a capacity of more than 10,000 people, and each venue will only be allowed to open at 10% capacity to host various events such as music shows and sports games.

Venues wishing to reopen must submit details of their plans for events, and how they will ensure safety measures are respected, to the State Department of Health for approval. However, the issue remains, as some critics have pointed out, that those receiving a negative test ahead of an event can become infected with COVID-19 in the interim period before an event.

"The success of this, and similar events in approved venues over the coming weeks will help inform the re-opening process for smaller venues in the future," Cuomo said. "I can go see the president of the United States, take a test and if I pass the test, walk into the Oval Office. Why? If you’re negative, you’re negative. Testing is the key."

New York’s plans are similar to those of the UK Government late last year, which allowed small, socially distanced crowds to attend football matches in areas where transmission of the virus was low. Such measures have since been abandoned in the UK however, due to increasing COVID-19 rates.

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